On the day of my 30th birthday, a male colleague got drunk enough down the pub after work to lean in and say: ‘What nobody tells you is that when a woman turns 30, it’s like someone’s turned the lights off inside.’
I recall looking around for something to club him with, before settling for one of those hefty leather-bound menus. Meanwhile, female colleagues who had overheard started pelting him with wasabi peas and chanting: ‘Not true! Not true!’ And the louder they got, the more worried I became that it was.
I pictured myself as one of those tall disused buildings with rows of dark windows whose lease ran out years ago – but no one wants to buy. I thought about how often the expression ‘bright eyes’ is used in poetry and song. All this time I’d assumed it referred to vivaciousness, charisma. I didn’t realise it was age-dependent; I didn’t realise it meant ‘youth’.
It doesn’t, of course. And once I’d snapped out of my pub-sauvignon-induced birthday blues the following morning, I looked around and saw not just bright-eyed women of over 30 everywhere, but blazing-eyed grandmothers of 60, 70 and 80. They looked like those grand old Mayfair mansions where the curtains are never drawn – so intent are the owners on showing off the wealth within.
So my colleague was wrong. In fact, I believe the official term for comments like his is Preposterous Misogynistic Nonsense. But sometimes there’s an infinitesimally small grain of truth even in PMN. And although I like to think nobody’s switched my lights off even now (and if they have, could they please flick them back on? I’ve got work to do), I have noticed a slight closing up of my eyes that could, I suppose, be interpreted as a ‘dimming’, but is actually more to do with the deepening of the eyes into their sockets and drooping of the upper eyelids as we age.
Now, while I’m not about to catastrophise this by likening it to some kind of middle-aged ‘power cut’, I’m not about to sit back and let it happen, either. Because old bright eyes is still there. And yes, she might need a little help upping the wattage, but we’re a long, long way from ‘lights out’ time.
5 top buys for bright eyes
This ultra-light concealer brightens while infusing skin with hyaluronic acid, peptides and vitamin E.
Because this multi-active formula targeting puffiness, dark circles and dryness is highly concentrated, a little goes a long way.
A soothing essence for the eye contour, this cornflower-enriched treatment is to be applied with light taps of the fingertips.
Described as like a ‘lymph-draining massage’ for your eyes, this detoxifies while plumping out fine lines.
Besides being an object of beauty, the eye queen of Beverly Hills’ neutral palette has every pigment needed to create glorious wide-awake eyes. £43, anastasiabeverlyhills.co.uk.